a story


today, i’ll tell you a story
i’ll share with you my address and my soul



 faraway… in an unknown yet familiar land, there’s a majestic thoroughfare pulsating on either
side with dazzling storefronts and tantalizing eateries. everywhere you look, vibrant displays
fill your eyes and big smiling faces invite you in. designer brands, cinema houses, café shops,
ice-cream parlors, roadside artists, exotic spas, local snack stations, book stores and
craft emporiums: one for every occasion, taste and temperament, and each more alluring and
fulfilling than the other. in the middle of it all, there stands a giant clock tower, tall and surveying.
and right across this tower, beside a teeming cinema house, curls a quiet alley. the alley has
an old decrepit library building and a vast park, onto its other end. so only people in need of
peace or a little walk in the greens, in search of history or weary of the world take this path,
which is otherwise almost hidden to other mortals.
this alley is my address. this is where i live. 

here, i sell handmade muslin creations in my store… it’s not much, just a little boutique-of-sorts,
but lovingly assembled with a tiny garden in the front. no eye-catchy window display either.
i don’t believe in hanging my best offerings on mannequins. instead, i’ve hung a big brass bell
on my patio roof to echo the wind outside and lit sandalwood incense by my door. inside,
there’s no carpeting, just cool naked flooring, a few oil lamps, some wistful music playing in the
background, big open windows and swaying curtains. a dozen wooden shelves stacked with
muslin, two fresh linen sheeted divans and an old table between them with a pitcher full
of nimbu-pani. i don’t get many visitors in my store, perhaps because i live
in an almost hidden alley. but i like it that way. it suits me fine.


whenever i have a guest calling, my heart blooms open. i smile my welcome and offer a glass
of cool from my pitcher. and while they’re seated, sipping restfully, i spread out my muslin
creations fondly, one by one, for them to look. for some of my guests it is love at first sight.
they say they’d been searching for just such loveliness all their life. my heart swells with joy
when i see them holding my muslin against their face, feeling its caress. they share with me
what they dream of using this delicious fabric for. sometimes, there are other dreams shared too
and time quietly slips by unnoticed. once they’ve made their choice, i go out into my garden in
search of a pretty little twig to use for wrapping their purchase. and when i hand over the parcel,
they smile their delight and tell me how they loved this place. i thank them for their visit and for
sharing their dreams, and hope the little surprise i’ve enclosed in their package will whistle my
gratitude to their heart.   

i feel so happy and content, i could burst.


it always makes me euphoric to see others giving into the charm of my muslin. because each
time i look at their pastel softness, their melting beauty, i sigh…
...and hope to hear you sigh too. but some guests don’t. neither love nor sigh.
they just gaze as if what they are looking at is a thing of drear and nothing else to them.
so i invite them to feel its touch. they say it’s lifeless [i break a bit]. they say how my collection
is so muted and anemic, it needs color. in fact, i shouldn’t be selling muslin they say, but consider
chiffons and silks. and definitely in bright colors. then they notice how my store is not very
attractive either. i need to get more creative and perk up this place. play some lively music,
replace my lamps with chandeliers and why burn incense sticks with all that smoke in the air
while there are such aromatic room sprays? no wonder i don’t get enough footfalls.  i wasn’t
supposed to set-up my store in this dead alley, they add, but in that bustling majestic street with
other glamorous shops for company. but now, since this already is my address, i’d better start
advertising and visiting other stores to build more contacts. they tell me these were the very steps
they borrowed from popular success guides to improve their own business and are sharing it out
of concern for me. i thank them for their visit and their concern. i try to think of something i could
gift them as my habitual goodbye present, and then pick up one of my pressed-flower cards,
sign-in god bless and smile my goodbye. only it’s a quivering smile.

i feel so warped and breathless, i could...


i go back in, sweep my insides and gently dust my spirit from the soot that gets leftover from
the sweeping, allowing myself to breathe clean again. then, i light my lamps, burn my incense,
gently fold and place all my muslin back onto the empty shelves, walk over to the window and
open my heart to the stars. standing there, i reassert my promise to god that with each day i will
try only to better and not change my story, because that’s the way he authored me, that’s the way
he loves my tale.

i let my smile thank heavens for everything my day was blessed with and my moist cheeks pray
for more deep souls in my life. hoping, knowing that my prayers will be answered, i calmly
drink in the music that is night. leaving the windows open for the wind [stars, fairies and other
magical things] to blow in, i go to bed. and just before my favorite story, resting under my pillow,
lulls me to sleep, i mentally make a list of things to do: to become more deep, more kind,
more patient, real, understanding, accepting and forgiving, myself.
amen.  

…and i happily dream ever after. 

15 comments:

  1. Thank you Niru for sharing your intimate story here. To have your own creations in your own shop is indeed a dream come true. That too "the way you wanted it to be " with all the charms of a rustic Indian environmental friendly design studio.
    My family friend's Bhabhi, who lives in USA and who is an artist and a homemaker- has opened her own little shop in her own home a few years back. She sells her handmade creations there, including her own paintings, handcrafted jewelry,outfits and dress materials sourced from village artisans in India. I was involved in that process , along with my friend-We shared ideas, did so many discussions over phone and what not ! So many things we { me and my friend } purchased together here in India and send them to her to set up her shop. Now, she is a proud owner of her quaint little shop, just like you.
    We discussed on the decor too, she wanted to decorate with lamps and her paintings and earthen pottery !
    While reading your post, I could feel the same excitement in you like my friend's Bhabi.

    My relative {from my husband's side }has her own small studio in USA -She is a homemaker and a paper cutting artist. She makes cards, decor items and other designs by making intricate cuttings on paper which she learned while her husband was transferred to China for a year and she was a full time homemaker then.

    Running a small business is difficult particularly if you treasure something so much yet the clients/ buyers do not understand/appreciate the process and the passion behind it.

    Creative souls like you and me regard every product as a "creation" ,as "a baby" but for the business minded, it is only a "product".
    Balancing creativity ,passion and the commercial side of the business is not easy.

    But I am so happy for you Niru, you are doing what you love with passion and dedication and that counts the most !

    All the best!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sanghamitra, I'm so sorry if this story gave you an impression that I've set-up a store of my own in real life. I haven't.
      This fictitious narration [threaded with my imagination] was my way of addressing an issue... of sharing my experience... where some people appreciate my individualism and see beauty in it, while some others fail to understand me and drown me with their uninvited advice.
      I was using my fictitious store as a metaphor to my own self.

      Delete
    2. Oh Sorry ! A great piece of writing by the way :-) You wrote it so beautifully { great metaphor } that I could not differentiate fact from fiction.
      Anyway, the underlying thoughts that I expressed in my previous reply remains the same. We are "creators" as artists, homemakers, writers, photographers, dreamers { dreaming is also an act of creation } - Niru, we have a "special calling" I feel. In order to "pay heed" to this special calling, we have to overcome { although, it is hard at times, I know } those "uninvited/uncalled for" responses from the society and grow as an individual and cherish our individuality as God wanted us to be. We have to rise above these with our quiet inner strength.
      I hope that by sharing your thoughts here you will meet/ hear from many individuals who is going through similar emotions and we can bond with each other in this way.
      love and hugs,
      Sanghamitra

      Delete
    3. Thank you Sanghamitra. You are sweet. Its interesting to see how my writing is so appreciated while it sometimes even seems to cloak 'my reason for writing' itself :)
      Through this story I meant to express how my timid self is oftentimes resilient to counsels from the "I-know-or-have-read-about-it-all-and-so-I-can't-resist-giving-out-my-opinions-and-exhibiting-my-cleverness" types.
      Maybe its my understated style of writing. But I'm glad you enjoyed it.
      Hope your having a lovely time!

      Delete
  2. And you are a good writer too, Nirmala. Straight from your heart comes those words which everybody has but forget to express in this express world. Keep on going. And the photos really nice with a different lighting and shade. All the Best for your photography and writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much sir. I'm so pleased to know my writing meant something to you. And thanks for mentioning the photos, I think they are one of my bests ever :) Good day!

      Delete
  3. you write so good!!! SHEINSIDE giveaway on my blog!!!
    Fashionspot.ro

    ReplyDelete
  4. you write so good!!! SHEINSIDE giveaway on my blog!!!
    Fashionspot.ro

    ReplyDelete
  5. A beautiful story!..a lovely dream tht touched my heart...a wish.. whenever ur dream comes true, i could be a part of it too..
    u made me live into ur words for the moment...even i wish to setup such a store tht reflects me in it..
    Beautiful!!!! ur thoughts, ur words and their presentation!!!m inspired!...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a lovely compliment this is, thank you dear.
      It makes me most happiest when I'm told that my writing was an invitation to 'live in'!
      I wish all your beautiful dreams come true :)

      Delete
  6. This was just so beautiful, Niru. I found it extremely touching. Actually, I too thought you owned a shop full of muslin until I saw your reply above! You totally drew me in...
    Ronnie xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ronnie, thank you for letting me know that my story drew you in... makes it special somehow!
      Now, I'm so wanting to fulfill this dream and invite you all for an afternoon at my little muslin boutique :)

      Delete
  7. Thank you thank you THANK YOU!
    Niru, you have no idea how I
    needed this lovely story today.
    I believe we live in a time
    that is consumed with so much
    noise, clutter, distraction.
    The simple beauty of quiet
    and calm in your story truly
    blessed my soul today. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kat, you make me feel like I'm receiving a lovely 'return-gift' in exchange to something I was unaware of giving...
      So very glad to know my story could give you some meaning! Hope your smiling amidst all that distraction :)

      Delete



let my thoughts come to you
when I am gone
like the afterglow of sunset
at the margin of starry silence
- rabindranath tagore -